The actress Camilla Rutherford is very much a working mother. Having graced our screens in classics such as Gosford Park, she can today be found living in West London with her three children, aged 12, 9 and 5. Camilla currently has two films in production and runs a beautiful website, The English Mother, which covers everything from family moments at home to parenting challenges, interior design in her home to nights out on the town.
What is your first childhood memory of travel?
My first travelling memories are of the drive we did every Summer from our house in London all the way to my grandparent’s villa in the South of France. My mother drove with me and my two sisters in the back. There wasn’t a seat belt rule and we travelled with the seats laid flat. I thought of it as a little home and I loved it, especially because we were together. It must have been tough for my mother at times as we goofed around all the way there. The drive took three days and, for two nights, we would stop in different villages and towns along the way for little suppers and walks through different streets and ramparts until we found a hotel. The weather got hotter as we drove further South, and one year I remember our wax crayons melted in the car. The final stretch then came as we drove down the ‘motorway of the sun’ and, in the distance, the sea stretched and twinkled into the horizon.
Where have you had your best holiday to date?
When I was 16 I had my first boyfriend. He suggested we take our bikes and camping gear to Epping forest for a couple of nights. I had never camped before and my heart was full of love and excitement. It was not glamorous but I was free and young and trusting. We got the train to the forest. Donkeys roamed around and we set up our little camp under the stars. We rode our bikes to the English sea and I got the best, most freckly suntan I have ever had. There was never a problem or a fluster and I remember it as one of the most charmed holidays of my life.
Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
The first place I went to with a child was Greece. I was working on a movie that was shooting out there and so I had to stay for some time. I just could not leave my four month old son. He came with me in his car seat on the plane and then, in the middle of the night, we boarded a Sunseeker to travel to the island. I cuddled him in a cabin downstairs as the winds blew and the waves rocked us. All was well the next day when the sun came up and flooded our new “home from home.”
How do you find the experience of travelling with children?
I love travelling with my kids because I am a nicer Mum when I am away from home. I don’t worry about the housework or the myriad of responsibilities that nag at me at home. I feel free to listen to their stories and observations. From the nuts and little drinks on the plane to the holiday itself, they have my undivided attention, which is really what they want most. The best holiday I have had with my children was at our house in Norfolk. It was about three years ago. The weather, which is all too often a problem, was divine. We swam in the sea at Cley, caught crabs and laughed: life was just as it should be.
And have you had any bad experiences of travel with your children?
The worst holiday was when we went to stay in Bristol for a friend’s wedding. We expected the journey to be short, but it was not. As well as being unexpectedly far away, the traffic had us bickering in the claustrophobia of an overly-packed car. I was really tired; my third child was no more than five months old and ill with a stomach bug and I had been away working. But the hours were passing and annoyance was turning into full-on anxiety as we were running late and I was supposed to be doing a reading. We got there just in time, but without enough time to change at the hotel and we changed in the back of the car. Unfortunately, the trip did not improve!
What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
Always have more than one source of money. Without funds not much is possible but, with them, things can always be arranged.
And have you got any top tips for travel with kids?
Plan your journey so that not much is unexpected. Don’t overpack: you really don’t need that much and most destinations will have whatever you need. And don’t let the kids use technology every time there is any waiting to be done. Sometimes waiting is just a part of life.